Friday, December 30, 2016

Taking A Dribble

This morning I took a shower.  Actually, it was more like taking a dribble.  There was just a very slow trickle of water coming out of the hose.  In general, I really like the showers in many Asian countries that detach from the wall and are on a hose, where the whole bathroom is the shower stall, and there is just a drain in the floor.  You just have to be careful where you aim it so you don't get the toilet paper and your towel wet, or anything else you don't want soaked.Then there is also usually a high-pressure nozzle also next to the toilet for spraying the toilet down after you do your business as well.  There is one next to this toilet, but I haven't tried it out yet.

But the hot water didn't last long at all.  No big deal, hot water is more than I expected in rural Vietnam, and it is not too cold in the morning today.  It started running out, so I just tried to scrub off all the soap as quickly as I could before it got too chilly.  Maybe I shouldn't have run it for a bit to see if it was hot first, but I didn't know it would run out so fast.

I checked out the cable television for a few minutes, and in this town, there are no foreign television stations at all, they are all Vietnamese stations.  This is the first town I have been in where there are no stations in English or French. The majority of them seem to be local stations from different cities in Vietnam; I could tell because the name of the city was usually part of the logo superimposed on the screen.  There is a lot of overlap in programming because some of them are getting the same national feed from whatever affilate they are with.  And the affiliate name seems to always be "Vietnam" followed by a number, like Vietnam5 or so on.  I saw up to Vietnam15. I was hoping to get some French TV for a little while, but no such luck. Interestingly enough, at the last hotel I stayed in in Ninh Binh, they had different cable systems for the foreigner side of the hotel and the Vietnamese side of the hotel.  But even on the Vietnamese side, they had some of the same foreign stations; they were just on different channels.

I hope I don't regret having ditched my only pair of closed-toed shoes when I moved out of my apartment in Hanoi.  I hadn't worn them since I was in South Korea in May or so, and I have just been lugging them around as dead weight in my pack.  Finally it just got to the point where there was no room in my pack.  The North Face jacket that I bought in Sapa has pretty much taken the place of the room they take up in my pack.  Shoes take up a lot of damned room in a pack...having an extra pair you have to carry around is a luxury when you are carrying all your stuff on your body.  Of course, now I'm loading it on my bike, so I can maybe carry a little more, but I'm still trying to keep it down so I don't have issues in loading and balance, or possibly stuff getting loose and falling off (despite some of the massive loads that I see locals carrying on their motorcycles and bicycles; some of them have special cages attached, sometimes welded on, for their stuff).  My shoes had gotten pretty ratty anyway, having used them to walk around for long stretches of the day from Australia to Korea.

In a couple of hours, I'll take off again, hopefully to Quan Son, which was my initial destination before I got sidetracked.  Then I'll make the stretch to Laos, if it is passable, and see if they will let me across the border. In general, I don't want to plan to travel on my bike for more than three to five hours at a time, because the estimates on Google Maps end up being low due to the traffic and the quality of the roads, and because the headlights on most Vietnamese bikes are pretty bad, so I don't want to be stuck traveling in pitch darkness at night.  If Google Maps says it will take three hours, it will probably take five, or even longer.  I think eight hours would be about the max I would want to travel in a day, but I usually don't leave early enough for that to end during daylight.  Plus, I want my travel to be relaxing and fun, with the ability to stop frequently if I want, and not trying to push it to get to my next destination.

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